In the current age of social media, smartphones and everchanging and improving digital technology, it is easy to take for granted the benefits of having access to the internet and being digitally included. On the other hand, there is also a strong correlation between digital exclusion, long-term unemployment and homelessness.

Have you considered the barriers you’d face if you didn’t have access to the digital world and/or the skills to navigate through it? In some cases, it can literally be a case of life and death; without computer and internet access, individuals are often left marginalised and excluded from nearly all aspects of mainstream society and life: job opportunities, housing and living options, healthcare, support and other essential services. Even good lines of communication with family and friends are reliant upon digital inclusion.

As well as having limited or no access to technology and internet connectivity, digitally excluded individuals often lack skills, confidence and motivation to better their living and employment opportunities. This can lead to further issues of social exclusion, exacerbating ongoing social and economic problems. In December 2019, the Office for National Statistics estimated that 9% of U.K. adults have either never used the internet, or last used it over three months ago. To put that into perspective, that is approximately 4.8 million people throughout the country, though these figures may be even greater today.

Digital Inclusion is about ensuring everybody has access to the internet and digital technologies. Yet, it is simply not enough to provide access without tailored support to ensure everybody is confident and capable using such and has additional access to training and educational opportunities.

Chanel Williams of PHG, has stated: “digital inclusion is so important and matters to a great deal of individuals who are looking to better their lives. By making access to the digital world more available to homeless individuals, or those at risk of homelessness, we are aiming to break the cycle that so often forces these people back on to the streets”.

“Pathway Homes Group want to help individuals and wider communities become independent and resilient, which is why we have sponsored Next Steps Training to deliver digital skills training throughout the country. This training provider is working in collaboration with our partner organisations to educate, support and develop individual’s digital skills and competencies to ensure they are not left behind”.

Digital inclusion doesn’t just unlock doors, it breaks them down, enabling individuals the opportunities to fulfil their potential. By promoting digital inclusion, we can ensure that nobody slips through the net or misses any opportunities they so rightly deserve and need.